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Hagee v. Capital Tacos, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division

May 16, 2018

KRISTEN HAGEE, MICHELLE HANEY, and JEREMY LANG, Plaintiffs,
v.
CAPITAL TACOS, INC. d/b/a FUZZY'S TACO SHOP, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. GLEN E. CONRAD, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Kristen Hagee, Michelle Haney, and Jeremy Lang filed this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219, against their former employer, Capital Tacos, Inc. ("Capital Tacos"). Capital Tacos has moved to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         Factual Background

         The following factual allegations, taken from the plaintiffs' amended complaint, are accepted as true for purposes of the pending motion. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ("[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint.").

         Capital Tacos operates a restaurant known as "Fuzzy's Taco Shop" in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hagee, Haney, and Lang worked at the restaurant from May 2, 2017 until mid-June of 2017. They initially received an hourly wage of $8.00, along with a share of the tips left by customers each day. Capital Tacos eventually increased their pay to $9.00 per hour.

         On or about May 2, 2017, the plaintiffs worked "long hours" as part of a "week-long 'orientation.'" Am. Compl. ¶ 12, Docket No. 16. Haney and Lang ultimately worked "in excess of 60 hours" that week. Id. However, Capital Tacos "only credited [them] with fourteen (14) hours" and therefore failed to adequately pay them for the time that they actually worked. Id.

         Following the orientation period, the plaintiffs "regularly and routinely worked more than forty (40) hours in a week, without overtime pay." Id. ¶ 13. More specifically, each of the plaintiffs typically worked "between fifty (50) and sixty (60) hours each week." Id. On or about June 8, 2017, Haney expressed concern to Lang regarding her paycheck. Haney noticed that she had not been compensated for a particular shift, and that she had not received any overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week during the pay period ending on May 20, 2017. After speaking with Haney, Lang noticed that he had not been compensated for overtime work performed during the same pay period.

         On or about June 9, 2017, Lang approached the "owner/manager" of the restaurant, Pranav Shah, and "asked for a copy of a labor report." Id. ¶¶ 7, 16. Shah refused to provide the report, and advised Lang that his employment would be terminated if he insisted on obtaining it. Lang did not appear for his assigned shift the following day and was subsequently terminated.

         Haney returned to work on June 10, 2017. Upon her arrival, Shah informed Haney that she was being terminated. "When Haney asked why she was being terminated, [Shah] stated a number of reasons, before admitting that Haney was terminated out of concern that she would exercise her statutory rights under the FLSA and Virginia law." Id. ¶ 19.

         On that same day, after discovering a problem with her own pay check and learning that her coworkers' checks were purportedly incorrect, Hagee approached Shah and requested a copy of her labor report. Hagee informed Shah that she intended to consult an attorney regarding her rights under the FLSA, and that she refused to return to work until she was paid all of the wages and overtime pay that she was due.

         On June 11, 2017, an officer with the Albemarle County Police Department delivered a notice of termination of employment to Lang and Haney. The officer advised Lang and Haney that they would be arrested for trespassing if they returned to the restaurant.

         Procedural History

         Hagee, Haney, and Lang filed this action against Capital Tacos on October 25, 2017. In Count One of their original complaint, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendant violated the FLS A "by failing to compensate [them] at the required overtime rate." Compl. ¶ 28, Docket No. 1. In Count Two, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendant violated the FLS A "by failing to compensate, [them] for all of the time that they worked at the appropriate wage." Id. ¶ 33. In Count Three, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendant violated the FLSA "by terminating . . . Lang and Haney for exercising their statutory rights." Id. ¶ 38.

         Capital Tacos moved to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). The plaintiffs opposed the motion and, alternatively, requested leave to amend the complaint. By memorandum opinion and order entered January 29, 2018, the court granted Capital Tacos' motion, dismissed the original ...


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